The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

January 25, 2010

Planetarium to host Valentine’s Day event

Couples will be entertained with orchestra music

MANKATO — Romance just isn’t the same without a little music.

Which is why the Mankato East planetarium recruited the school’s newly formed chamber orchestra to serenade lovers during its Valentine’s Day dinner-show special.

“The kids are rapidly learning the music,” said Dave Urness, East’s orchestra director, as his musicians wrapped up the final notes of Van Morrison’s mystical lovers’ tune “Moondance.”

“They’re doing very well.”

For the first time in its history, the planetarium is hosting a night of entertainment for couples and friends on Feb. 14. And fortunately, the planetarium’s first foray into romantic entertainment happened to coincide with the formation of East’s first chamber orchestra in recent memory.

Urness started the all-volunteer group early this school year and has been holding two or three practices a week before school. They’ve already played publicly — during intermissions of East’s stage production of “A Christmas Carol” and for a group of seniors at Old Main Village — and have learned a variety of music.

So, when East teacher and planetarium director Dave Burgess inquired if there were any groups that could perform for the Valentine’s Day event, Urness jumped at the opportunity.

“He asked if anyone could play,” Urness said. “And I said, ‘By chance, I do.’”

The evening will include a JD Truffles catered dinner, complete with chicken Kiev, vegetable, salad, cheesecake and a beverage. Also included is a presentation on “the love stories of the stars” on the planetarium’s state-of-the-art, full-dome projector (which is one of only a handful in public planetariums across the country).

Participants must be 18 or older, and tickets are $12.50 per person.

“We think with what we are offering it would be a unique experience for couples and friends, alike,” said Dave Burgess, East teacher and planetarium director. “And try to beat our price.”

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